Settlement Calls For Mirant To Cut Almost 29,000 Tons of Harmful Emissions in Virginia, Maryland

Under a federal-state settlement, Mirant Mid-Atlantic (Mirant) has agreed to eliminate nearly 29,000 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx) each year generated by its four electricity generating plants in Maryland and Virginia.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), EPA, Virginia and Maryland worked jointly on this enforcement action, the federal government announced on May 8. In addition, Mirant will pay a $500,000 civil penalty, to be divided between Virginia and the United States, and will spend at least $1 million on nine projects designed to reduce particulate matter (PM) and fugitive dust emissions from the Potomac River plant.

The amended Clean Air Act consent decree, lodged on May 8 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, specifically resolves federal and state claims that in 2003, Mirant violated the NOx emissions limitation set forth in the operating permit for its Potomac River plant in Alexandria, Va.

Under the terms of the settlement, Mirant will cap NOx emissions on a system-wide basis from its Chalk Point Generating Plant, in Prince George's County, Md.; Dickerson Generating Plant, in Montgomery County, Md.; Morgantown Generating Plant, in Charles County, Md.; and its Potomac River Generating Station, in Alexandria, Va. To achieve these reductions and meet the declining system-wide NOx caps, Mirant will install and operate NOx pollution control equipment at its Morgantown and Potomac River Plants and may install other controls at its Chalk Point and Dickerson Plants. Specifically, Mirant will install and operate two Selective Catalytic Reduction devices to control NOx emissions from its Morgantown Plant, as well as Separated Over-Fire Air technology at its Potomac River plant.

"We are pleased that this settlement will secure permanent and substantial emission reductions for the citizens of the Mid-Atlantic region," said Granta Y. Nakayama, EPA's assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "We expect companies to act responsibly and within the law when it comes to protecting public health and the environment."

NOx contributes to the formation of acid rain and also increases low-level ozone, which causes smog, and fine PM causes haze. These pollutants can cause severe respiratory problems and exacerbate cases of childhood asthma.

The original agreement was filed in September 2004, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. After receiving public comment on the original agreement, the parties negotiated changes to address some of the public comments received.

The amended consent decree will be subject to a 30-day public comment period and is available on DOJ's Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/open.html and on EPA's Web site at http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/mirant0406.html.

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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